Edited by: Nick Midgley
The author is a joint editor of CAMH. He is Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. He has no potential or competing conflicts of interest in relation to this editorial.
Editorial: Maltreatment and trauma – the impact on development and implications for child mental health services.
There is now a broad consensus that maltreatment in childhood is one of the strongest predictors of poor mental health across the lifespan. Whether physical, emotional or sexual abuse, emotional or physical neglect, early experiences of maltreatment have been demonstrated to impact on a wide range of domains, including attachment relationships, academic achievement, physical development and key areas of neurobiological development. To give just one example, a study by McCrory et al. (2011), using functional MRI scans to investigate the impact of physical abuse and domestic violence on children, found changes in brain structure and functioning comparable to soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder exposed to combat. It is no surprise, then, that a high proportion of both children and adults accessing mental health services have histories of maltreatment and trauma, although for young people this access is sometimes limited by the fact that children with histories of maltreatment do not always fit easily into existing psychiatric diagnostic systems (deJong, 2010).
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